Prince William and Kate Middleton are reported to have made use of Heathrow Airport’s luxury Windsor Suite – a private lounge which comes at a cost of £3,300 (€3,900) – ahead of a half-term holiday with their children.
So what is this lounge fit for a prince and princess really like?
The experience literally begins at your door, with a chauffeur service whisking passengers from their homes to a private entrance, where they are greeted by a doorman and personal butler assigned to them for the duration of their stay. The ‘Heathrow VIP’ offering is designed to provide a private, secure and luxurious area where high-flying VIPs can await their flights far from the madding crowds.
And in our pandemic times, the spacious and self-contained nature of the lounges no doubt have an extra appeal.
Forget about it if you are flying economy, though. Heathrow VIP is only available to book for those travelling on First or Business Class flight tickets.
When you arrive, your passports, flight details and luggage are taken – airlines will handle the check-in and luggage nastiness while you relax, returning magically with boarding passes.
Customs and border checks can be taken care of too – “it they want to conduct further checks these would all happen in private”, Heathrow's website says.
The private suite includes eight lounges kitted out with art curated by Tanya Baxter Contemporary, and there are private security facilities too – so don’t worry about waiting in line or having to remove all that jewellery while the hoi polloi behind tut-tut.
You can also free yourself from airport annoyances like finding power supplies, USB sockets and clean loos – kicking back in the comfort of your own plush sofas, armchairs and private bathroom facilities.
Hungry? Thirsty? You can order from a seasonal food and drink menu designed by British Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton.
And if you want to nip out to the shops for some retail therapy, you can draw on the services of a team of multilingual personal shoppers, natch.
It's all designed to help you become as relaxed “as you would be in your own home” – though clearly, if reports in The Mirror are correct, that detail may have been tested by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, whose official residence is Kensington Palace.
Heathrow VIPs do get a large portrait of the queen hanging in one of the lounges, however – perhaps that would have been some consolation.
Bookings include two hours of care for departures, and when your flight is ready, you are chauffeur-driven to the aircraft.
And the cost?
If you have to ask… Well, OK then, prices start at £2,750 + VAT (around £3,300/€3,900) for up to three people for an arriving or departing flight, as well as those on flights connecting within three hours.
By comparison, Dublin airport's VIP terminal is a relative bargain, with rates starting from €255pp for the first passenger and €165 for additional guests.
Platinum Services is the airport’s 24-hour VIP facility, with private check-in, security, suites, drinks and dining, and chauffeur-driven transfers to aircraft.
Customers over the years have included Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and U2, along with the Irish rugby, soccer and Olympic teams… and pretty much everyone who uses a private jet.
It’s just steps from Terminal 1's Arrivals Hall, but few passengers even know the discreet facility exists (it's also available to hire for meetings and events).
"Platinum Services has seen a noticeable pick-up in business since the opening up of international travel on July 19 last”, says Kevin Cullinane, DAA’s Head of Communications.
Suites are selling out "regularly” he adds, and are booked by a range of business and leisure travellers, including honeymooners and passengers celebrating special occasions.
“Guests have also cited their desire to maximise social distancing when travelling, when they sought extra reassurance after an absence of flying for a year or two and when case numbers were high, here and abroad,” he says.
Some have also “sought the tranquillity and reassurance of the space in addition to fulfilling all other Covid protocols before visiting their loved ones”, he adds.
Stepping inside Platinum Services, guests receive a warm and professional greeting, private waiting lounges, a separate security area, and similar fast-track check-in, luggage handling and chauffer-driven BMW transfers across the tarmac.
You’ll also have access to a “luxury shower room”, complimentary refreshments and eye-catching art (including an Andy Warhol when I visited, pre-pandemic) in which to while away your wait.
It's clearly a splurge (parking costs extra at €40 a day), but also just a fraction of Heathrow VIP's prices.
Christmas gift, anyone?